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MADISON - Package deals are a rare achievement in college sports, especially in the same recruiting class when it involves more than two people. South Plantation (Fla.) athlete John Franklin, and a couple of his teammates, might become the exceptional occurrence.
Good friends from the same city off the field, Franklin, Plantation cornerback Sojourn Shelton and South Plantation tailback Alex Collins are so close and each recruited highly enough that the trio has expressed the desire of committing to the same school.
"Sojourn was my little league quarterback and we talk about it all the time," Franklin told Badger Nation. "Me, Sojourn and Alex always wanted to go to the same school since we were young."
If the three want to stick to that pledge, Wisconsin would seem like the perfect destination. The Badgers have already hosted Shelton on an official visit (September 1) and will host Collins (who visited unofficial for the spring game) in the near future. Collins – still listed as a soft verbal to the University of Miami - lists the Badgers and Florida State as his two favorites. Shelton was once committed to Seminoles, but de-committed and says Florida State is no longer an option.
Franklin – a 6-1, 175 pound dual threat quarterback who reports a 4.56 40-yard dash, a 4.37 shuttle time and a 34-inch vertical jump – is the only one of the three without an offer from Wisconsin, who wants to take a quarterback and running back every recruiting cycle but has yet to receive a verbal commitment for either position.
"If I get (a Wisconsin) offer, it could mean the three of us come to Wisconsin," said Franklin. "We could do something special there. It's something we would like to happen, but I am the only one without the offer. So we're just playing the waiting game."
Further adding to the intrigue, the trio is good friends with Cypress Bay (Fla.) cornerback Boaz Joseph and Plantation defensive tackle Monty Nelson, both of whom have a Wisconsin offer. Not only have all five talked about possibly playing together in college, they all would fill a significant gap in Wisconsin's 2013 recruiting class.
"We might as well all go up together and start something special with our class," said Franklin. "The way we've been talking about, I would say it's a 90 percent chance all five of us go and a 95 percent chance me, Sojourn and Alex go. Sojourn and Monty talk about it, so it wouldn't be hard to agree on it because we all know each other."
Like his teammates, Franklin is close with true freshman Hugs Etienne, a former teammate of Franklin's last season who enrolled at Wisconsin in January. The group is being recruited by defensive line/defensive coordinator Charlie Partridge, who grew up in Plantation.
"It's a real good relationship," said Franklin. "The trust is there. Hugs is already up there and loves it. It's a really close relationship. I talk to coach and he said Wisconsin still has a spot open at quarterback. When the quarterback coach (Matt Canada) came down and watched me go through my daily routine, he was surprised. He was only supposed to stay 15 minutes, but he stayed through my whole practice. He was impressed and liked me a lot."
Franklin holds 14 offers from schools like Air Force, Bowling Green, Florida International, Navy, Temple, Tennessee State and Western Kentucky. In addition to Wisconsin, Franklin says Auburn, Iowa State, Florida State and Kentucky have all shown interest.
Franklin was invited to Wisconsin over the summer, but couldn't make the trip for scheduling reasons. He hopes to visit the Badgers sometime before making decision.
"They told me to patient (about getting an offer)," said Franklin. "I think if I visit (the school), I would get an offer, but I can't say that's the main reason. Once I can get up there and check out the campus, I think that would help. Alex and Sojourn went up and checked out the campus and they told me it was real nice up there."
Franklin and Collins are just two of the players on a South Plantation team that went 7-3 a year ago, finished district runner-up and returns a lot of players that Franklin believes are potential Division 1 talent.
"The three games we lost last season were all under six points, so we have high expectations this season," said Franklin, who has helped his team start 4-0 this season. "Everybody was working hard in the weight room throughout the summer and we've done a lot of team bonding. We've put in a lot of work … and we're ready to get the ball rolling."
Working with a quarterback coach, Franklin has spent the summer working on his accuracy, his touch passes and becoming a rounded athlete. With being looked as a team leader, Franklin has successfully found a healthy balance between striving for a state title and putting his recruitment on the back burner.
"With my recruitment, I am really open to everybody, so I am not putting any stress on myself in terms of narrowing it down," said Franklin. "It's easy for me to balance because I am only worried about the season and see who is going to put an offer on the table. After the season I'll start narrowing it down and go on my visits."